Athlon recaps all of this weekend's action in the Pac-12.
This fall is becoming one of the most entertaining seasons of football in the Pac-12 in years. Three top ten teams, two unbeatens, a dozen Player of the Year candidates, one National Coach of the Year front-runner and arguably the biggest game left in college football about to kickoff in two weeks. This league is stacked with great coaches, great quarterbacks and great athletes. And most importantly, a lot of really good football teams.
Post-Week 8 Offensive Player of the Year Standings
1. Matt Barkley, QB, USC - The longtime star for USC threw six touchdown passes for the second time this year and for the fourth time in his last 11 games. He is second in the league in passing efficiency and fourth in total offense while leading with 22 touchdown passes.
2. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon - It has been a slow build for Mariota, but the numbers are there for the leader of the best team in the league. He is No. 3 in passing efficiency, is rushing for 50 yards per game, is fifth in total offense and just rushed for 135 yards while scoring twice in the huge road win over Arizona State.
3. Matt Scott, QB, Arizona - With so many worthy running backs and wide receivers canceling each other out, the league's most productive player deserves some love after a huge home win. Scott is leading the league in total offense at 374.3 yards per game — nearly 70 yards more than No. 2 Brett Hundley.
Post-Week 8 Defensive Player of the Year Standings
1. Jordan Poyer, CB, Oregon State - The do-everything star for the Beavers totaled seven tackles in the easy win over Utah. Oregon State stayed unbeaten by holding Utah to seven points and 307 yards of offense.
2. Scott Crichton, DL, Oregon State - The exploits of the Beavers' defense have been well documented and Crichton is leading the Pac-12 in sacks and tackles for loss for the league's No. 1 scoring defense.
3. TJ McDonald, S, USC - Names like Sutton, Breslin, Long, Barr or Clay could be here, but the defensive captain and leading tackler for USC gets the nod. He is fifth in the league in tackles, has three tackles for loss, one interception and a blocked kick as the leader of the best team in the South.
Post-Week 8 Coach of the Year Standings
1a. Chip Kelly, Oregon - The Ducks passes their first major road test — their first of four in the second half — and are clearly the league's top team thus far. Kelly's resume will only get better nationally if the Ducks continue to win. This team will play in the national title game if it wins its last six games.
1b. Mike Riley, Oregon State - It is the age-old Coach of the Year debate: Do you give the award to the guy who wins it all and accomplishes exactly what we expected of him (Kelly) or the guy who vastly overachieves but doesn't claim the championship?
3. Rich Rodriguez, Arizona - How about some love for a team that is likely much better than its 4-3 record indicates. The Cats just crushed Washington, lead the league in passing and total offense and its three losses are to teams with a combined record of 19-2 (Oregon, Oregon St, Stanford).
Post-Week 8 Power Rankings
1. Oregon (7-0, 4-0)
Previous rank: 1
Week 8 result: Beat Arizona State 43-21
The Ducks turned what was supposed to be a showcase game in primetime on Thursday night into a definitive statement about the location of the Arizona State Sun Devils program. They are not ready to compete for the conference crown. The Ducks won their 25th Pac-12 game in their last 26 tries after blitzing the overmatched opponent in the desert. After falling behind 7-0 on an early turnover, Oregon scored six straight touchdowns before ASU could even get into halftime to make adjustments. The Ducks shouldn't be challenged by lowly Colorado next weekend as the Ducks will head to Los Angeles unbeaten at 8-0.
This week: Colorado (1-6)
2. USC (6-1, 4-1)
Previous rank: 2
Week 8 result: Beat Colorado 50-6
There aren't many 41-point underdogs in BCS intraconference tilts these days but the USC Trojans justified their lofty point spread by crushing the Buffaloes by 44 points. Matt Barkley was outstanding, throwing only one incompletion (19-of-20), along with 298 yards and six touchdowns in the easy win. Wide receiver Robert Woods continues to rewrite the records books as he caught eight passes for 123 yards and a USC record four touchdown passes. He also passed Dwayne Jarrett as the Trojan's all-time leader in receptions (220). He now has 30 touchdown receptions in two-and-a-half seasons of football. A sneaky trip out to the desert takes place this weekend and if the Men of Troy aren't careful, they will get caught looking ahead to Oregon in two weeks.
This week: at Arizona (4-3)
3. Oregon State (6-0, 5-0)
Previous rank: 4
Week 8 result: Beat Utah 21-7
Another weekend and another workmanlike team effort keeps the Beavers undefeated. One of the nation's best stories continues to roll along without starting quarterback Sean Mannion. Cody Vaz was superb in the win over BYU two weeks ago while MIke Riley leaned on his offensive line and ground game this weekend. Storm Woods rushed for three touchdowns and Vaz wasn't sacked against the solid Utah defensive line as the Beavers jumped out to a 14-0 early lead. The defense did the rest, forcing four turnovers and allowing only 307 yards of total offense. Now, things get interesting for the Beavers as Riley will face Washington (road), Arizona State (home) and Stanford (road) in the next three weeks — all potentially without Mannion.
This week: at Washington (3-4)
4. Stanford (5-2, 3-1)
Previous rank: 3
Week 8 result: Beat Cal 21-3
So it appears the Cardinal can win a road game after all, provided it's just across town. The Big Game lacked much suspense as the Cardinal took a commanding 21-3 lead with eight minutes still left in the second quarter. Neither team scored a point the rest of the way as Stanford suffocated the Golden Bears. Cal had only five second-half possessions. Three ended in punts, one was a turnover on downs and the final drive of the game ended on an interception. Stepfan Taylor was the star of the show, rushing for 189 yards and a touchdown in Stanford's first road win of the season. With Wazzu and Colorado up next, David Shaw's bunch should be 5-1 in the league before having to face both Oregon schools.
This week: Washington State (2-4)
5. UCLA (5-2, 2-2)
Previous rank: 6
Week 8 result: Off
Hopefully this team got plenty of rest in the off week. UCLA will play both Arizona schools in the next two weeks with major bowl implications on the line before finishing the year with USC and Stanford. It will be a challenging last month of the season for the Bruins.
This week: at Arizona State (5-2)
6. Arizona (4-3, 1-3)
Previous rank: 7
Week 8 result: Beat Washington 52-17
The Wildcats have lost three games this season to Oregon, Oregon State and Stanford. One could argue that Rich Rodriguez' team should have won two of those games. It means that Arizona is probably the best 4-3 team in the nation... and that they have a tough time winning close games. This weekend against Washington, Matt Scott and company had no such trouble. The offense rolled-up 533 total yards behind Ka'Deem Carey's 172 yards and Scott's five touchdowns. The biggest difference this weekend, however, was the defense. After allowing nearly 33 points per game, the Cats sacked Keith Price four times, forced three turnovers and allowed only 17 points. RichRod will have his guys thinking upset in the desert this weekend against Southern Cal.
This week: USC (6-1)
7. Arizona State (5-2, 3-1)
Previous rank: 5
Week 8 result: Lost to Oregon 43-21
There was a good chance Arizona State was going to have an eye-opening experience on Thursday night one way or the other. After taking a quick lead, Todd Graham found out real quick why Chip Kelly has won three straight Pac-12 titles. The offense turned the ball over four times. The defense allowed 454 yards of offense and 43 first-half points. And the Sun Devils were sent back down to Earth in embarrassing fashion on national television. Graham and his squad have a huge pecking order game this weekend against the Bruins.
This week: UCLA (5-2)
8. Washington (3-4, 1-3)
Previous rank: 8
Week 8 result: Lost Arizona 52-17
That Thursday night upset win over Stanford in which the students rushed the field in Seattle is a distant memory today. Washington is not quite done with one of the toughest months in the nation having lost to Oregon, USC and Arizona in consecutive weeks. The offensive line still has major holes and will struggle mightily against the stout Oregon State defense this weekend, but at least the schedule gets easier over the final month. The Huskies could win their final four games: at Cal, Utah, at Colorado and at Washington State. Somehow pull the upset this weekend and things will finally be looking up for U-Dub.
This week: Oregon State (6-0)
9. California (3-5, 2-3)
Previous rank: 9
Week 8 result: Lost to Stanford 21-3
After two huge wins, Jeff Tedford suffered a brutal home defeat in The Big Game. His tenure as the head coach at Cal is a weekly roller coaster of emotions for fans in Berkeley. He is arguably the most successful headman in program history but clearly this program has gotten stale under the former Fresno State quarterback. His team wasn't even competitive against its rival, turning the ball over three times, didn't reach the end zone and rushed for an abysmal three yards on 28 carries. This will be one of the more interesting teams to follow from here on out.
This week: at Utah (2-5)
10. Utah (2-5, 0-4)
Previous rank: 9
Week 8 result: Lost Oregon State 21-7
The Beavers scored to make it 14-0 just one minute into the second quarter and that was all she wrote in Corvallis. The unbeaten Beavers totally controlled the game against the overmatched Utes. Kyle Whittingham's team couldn't pressure backup quarterback Cody Vaz (no sacks) and lost the turnover battle 0-4. They were 3-of-16 on third downs and mustered only 3.0 yards per carry on 45 attempts. Utah has to be one of the most disappointing teams in the nation to this point.
This week: Cal (3-5)
11. Colorado (1-6, 1-3)
Previous rank: 11
Week 8 result: Lost to USC 50-6
Certainly, no one believed that the Buffs would challenge the mighty Trojans on the road. But if the fans cannot even expect their team to cover a 41-point spread, they might have a right to cry for Jon Embree's job. The Buffaloes are dead last in the Pac-12 in nine of the 17 measured team stats by the NCAA: scoring offense, passing efficiency, total defense, scoring defense, passing defense, pass efficiency defense, sacks allowed, turnover margin and punt returns. Something needs to be done in Boulder.
This week: at Oregon (7-0)
12. Washington State (2-4, 0-3)
Previous rank: 12
Week 8 result: Off
The Cougars will play three of their next four on the road coming out of the bye week.
This week: at Stanford (5-2)
by Braden Gall
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